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Report & Results: 2017 Welsh Regional Championships: Second Section

Abergavenny Borough and Penclawdd battle hard on Dean Goffin's masterful work to claim deserved trips to Cheltenham.

Brangwyn Hall
  Abergavenny leads the Rhapsody in Brass charge to Cheltenham

As perhaps expected after the previous regional contests around the country, 'Rhapsody in Brass' provided an imposing musical challenge that combined musical endeavour, style and technique for the small field of seven competitors to overcome.

The sympathetic, but sharply observed findings of adjudicators Derek Broadbent and Mike Kilroy acknowledged as much, as their viewpoints were revealed before the announcement of the results: There was no disguising the fact that they felt Dean Goffin's masterful work remained unbeaten and unbowed at its conclusion, dispute the almost heroic efforts of the hard working, well led bands.

Clear winner

The best for the experienced duo came from Abergavenny Borough, led by former Welsh National Opera tuba player Sean O'Neill, as they produced a performance that they stated was 'a clear winner', and which drew praise for its ability to bring style and control to each of the contrasting sections.

Joining them in Cheltenham in September will be Penclawdd conducted by Tony Small, whilst just missing out was Melingriffith 2 under Andy Wareham. The remaining top-six places went to Royal Buckley Town, Blaenavon Town and Seindorf Arian Crwbin.

Not only did Abergavenny claim their first Area title and National Finals qualification since 2002, but they also made it a clean sweep of the individual prizes on offer, with experienced solo horn player Debbie Bull taking a deserved 'Best Soloist' award and their cracking trio of percussionists picking up the 'Best Percussion' accolade.

Fantastic achievement

Little wonder then that the winning MD was thrilled by the victory: "What a fantastic achievement — and I'm sure we will represent Wales with great distinction and pride when we go to Cheltenham," he said.

"This result is all down to the total dedication and hard work of the members and the fantastic 'team work spirit' that everyone brings to each rehearsal. It's onwards and upwards now."

Meanwhile, Band Chairman, Terry Prosser, added: "It's been 15 years since we've been able to claim a Welsh Championship title, and during those times there have been some difficulties: But the tenacity of the players and committee has pulled us through.

Sean's appointment marked a turning point for the band. His professionalism, musicality and empathetic approach gave renewed enthusiasm and determination. As the icing on the cake our talented horn player, Deb Bull and our great percussion section gained well deserved awards. It's a joy to be a part of."

That was certainly seen both at the end of their performance as the MD beamed with delight at his players — and also a little later when the long overdue celebrations began in one of the nearby Swansea pubs.

Stalwart experience

Meanwhile, there was also some well-deserved post-contest fun to enjoy on the way home down the Gower peninsula for Penclawdd Brass, as they produced an evocative account led by their stalwart MD Tony Small.

He certainly used all his accumulated years of experience to bring a sense of style to the music in securing their first National Finals trip since 2013. It was also a performance that benefitted from some splendid individual contributions, notably from soprano player Gurnos Rees.

Encouraging

With the top two bands playing to the form that has seen them do well at recent Welsh League contests, there was also a highly encouraging result for Melingriffith 2 led by Andy Wareham, as their mix of talented youngsters and some more experienced older heads produced a vibrant account to finish third.

Behind them, the remaining bands had the judges balancing the pros and cons of slightly more varied accounts as the deceptively elegant structures of Dean Goffin's writing just caught out the unwary and the underprepared.

However, there was still much to enjoy as they produced accounts of merit on a work that despite its obvious challenges will have benefitted players and MDs alike.

This result is all down to the total dedication and hard work of the members and the fantastic 'team work spirit' that everyone brings to each rehearsal. It's onwards and upwards nowWinning MD, Sean O'Neill

Results:

Second Section:

Test Piece: 'Rhapsody in Brass' (Dean Goffin)
Adjudicators: Derek Broadbent and Mike Kilroy

1. Abergavenny Borough (Sean O'Neil)*
2. Penclawdd (Tony Small)*
3. Mellingriffith 2 (Andrew Wareham)
4. Royal Buckley Town (Brett Baker)
5. Blaenavon Town (Lynne Turner)
6. Seindorf Arian Crwbin (Craig Roberts)
7. Ammanford Town (Andrew Jones)

Best Instrumentalist: Debbie Bull (horn) — Abergavenny Borough
Best Percussion: Abergavenny Borough

*Top two bands qualify for the National Finals in Cheltenham



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John Maines

BA (Hons)
Presenter, compere and conductor